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Microsoft Sells Banner Ads on MSN Mobile

Microsoft Corp. has started placing advertisements on the U.S. version of MSN Mobile, a Web portal for cell phone browsers that connects users with Hotmail, instant messaging, search, news and other content.

Microsoft already serves up mobile ads in Japan and some European markets. Competitor Yahoo Inc. began selling cell phone ads phones in the U.S. in late 2006 and expanded overseas in February.

Microsoft said the cell phone ad service is a mix of its own efforts and those by two companies it acquired this year -- online advertising company aQuantive Inc., to the tune of $6 billion, and mobile ad group ScreenTonic SA, which it bought for an undisclosed amount.

Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar car brand and Bank of America Corp. will be among the first to peddle their brands to U.S. mobile customers, starting Monday.

MSN Mobile users will see either small graphics or text ads, depending on the size and quality of their cell phone screens.

Microsoft isn't yet letting advertisers target ads based on mobile phone users' location or Web surfing behavior -- but the software maker is definitely thinking about it, according to Phil Holden, a director in the company's Online Services division.

The company also said it is expanding MSN Mobile with services from MovieTickets.com Inc. and Thumbplay Inc., which sells ring tones and other cell phone content.

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